Friday, February 22, 2013

The Not Warm and Fuzzies

I sometimes will describe Morgan as having a "fuzzy" day on my page(s). I don't think people actually understand what in the world I'm talking about (not exactly an uncommon event), so I thought after this week, I'd try to break down the fuzzies for you.

We first coined the phrase "fuzzy" around the start of first grade. For years, Morgan would have "off" days where he would stare vacantly, not seem "with it," and sometimes speak in gibberish when he'd been legibly verbal for a while, and there was more.
  • vacant staring (more than usual, almost trance-like)
  • inability to articulate
  • Gross motor skill/fine motor skill slow down- in lay terms, he walks differently, writes differently, seems to lose skills he's retained for a couple of years. Normally, he'll regain them; his handwriting will remain "off" for a few hours to a couple of days
  • INCREDIBLY crabby or emotional, sometimes physically aggressive with me- this is rare
  • Stims and tics are more pronounced and often self-injurious; dermatilliomania is more present

As of first grade - last school year - he could really verbalize what that this felt like and he termed it "feeling fuzzy." Fuzzy sounds better than how some would describe it, so we took it and ran.

Fuzzies According to Morgan:
  • "head feels stuffed with cotton balls"
  • "I can't always hear good"
  • "I feel dizzy sometimes"
  • "Words feel funny in my mouth"
  • "Ants are in my head" - this happens sometimes after neural seizures
  • "I get stuff wrong"
So, what is the cause of the fuzzies? We don't actually know, we can only guess. No doctors have ever taken us seriously enough to investigate them and a nurse once told me, "Well, he is autistic and you are fairly opposed to medicating him. There isn't much to do." Maybe she was right, but I doubt it. We've tried to pinpoint when, where, and how these occur in order to either avoid them, manage them, or manage the world around him so that he's comfortable during a fuzzy period.

Possible Causes:
  • Lack of sleep
  • changes in school/home
  • stress/trauma
  • sensory over-stimulation
  • neural seizures
  • illness
Some of these things we can avoid, some we cannot. Lack of sleep? Well, we try to put him and his brother to bed at the same time every night as a sanity saver to everyone in the house. However, his little brother lives to party at night and they share a room now, so oftentimes, that can be hard. Changes in school and home can be slowly introduced, but not always. For instance, during the holidays, I try to slowly decorate over time so as to not overwhelm Morgan. For school, I have standards in his IEP such as seating preferences, but other than that, I have zero control. Sensory over-stimulation, neural seizures, and illness I really cannot control. I cannot always predict what will overwhelm my child, seizures happen when we least expect them, and kids are walking talking petri dishes. We take the changes in life and try to roll with them.

We have to send him to school sometimes during a fuzzy period. That always worries me. What if he has a test? Morgan is an A/B student who takes his grades very seriously- a poor grade will result in his stimming for a long time and a meltdown, guaranteed. Gets smart with an authority figure? Has a seizure? All of this has happened and I try to be on top of the fuzzies. I write notes to his teachers when he's having a fuzzy day so they can be prepared. Yes, I am "that mom" who writes a thousand and one notes during the school year. I warn the teachers at the start of the school year.

This week, I received a call from Morgan's school. The lady on the phone told me my son was in the office (gulp) and was complaining of a bad headache. She was nice enough to put Morgan on the phone. He told me he had "ants in his head again," a sharp pain in his head, and felt fuzzy.  That he felt bad enough to want someone to call me was a signal to me he needed help. When I picked him up, his pupils were enormous, he was clammy, had gone into a meltdown (he cries uncontrollably during his meltdowns), had requested the office door be shut against noises. I was seriously proud that my son had made requests for his own comfort and well being. A year ago, he would not have been able to articulate this. 

Do you or your child have fuzzy days? If so, how do you cope?


  1. Most of the signs of a fuzzy day that you describe are what migraines felt to me when I was a child. I also got mild "absent" seizures. These days the symptoms are similar but with more pain and the seizures have not recurred. Could that be what is happening here?

  2. He definitely has absent, or neural, seizures. The migraines we've considered and asked him about, but he doesn't always answer in the affirmative. In the case of the other day when I picked him up from school, I meant to add that he appeared to have a migraine headache. He was complaining of a sharp pain on the right side of his head. I'm prone to migraines, so it's not impossible for him to have them, either. We've been told that he's likely to grow out of the seizures, too.

  3. You have described his feelings beautifully. I am really proud of Morgan for his ability to understand his feelings and do what he needs to do to get help. This seems like real progress on his part. His understanding of his condition will help him to better cope with it in the long run.

  4. These "fuzzy days" you describe are particularly how Liam will act when he too is over tired, stressed, too many changes, and so on.....also does sound like he may be suffering from migraine (I know that feeling all too well) maybe all these things are bringing them on, after all, stress headaches are certainly not unheard of. What ever the case, kudos to Morgan for being able to speak up for himself, and for knowing when he needed to call momma! :)

  5. God Bless Morgan and you for recognizing and doing what you can to help him through these days.